When Bob & I first moved into our house in Kentucky, we were two frustrated gardeners who had previously guerrilla-gardened in a condo in Miami, in Zone 10, and longed for a temperate zone. We went nuts gardening.
We’ve always gardened organic, and Bob keeps a mean compost pile. When the Horse Park offered rotted stable stuff, horse doo and straw, free to whomever came to haul it away, we were right on it, and spread pickup truck loads over our flower and vegetable beds.
Now, we don’t even bother. I don’t foliar feed, or spray with fish emulsion, or even bother with the horse droppings anymore. In the fall, I do spread shovelfuls of well-rotted compost from Bob’s compost pile around my roses, as an extra treat.
Why not? I noticed that the only difference it made to fertilize, even with gorgeous stable compost, was to make the roses grow bigger [they don’t need to] and to put out lusher growth, which seemed to attract more aphids in the spring. The roses now grow at a slightly more manageable rate, attract fewer aphids and other pests, and possibly get a little less black spot.
The only way I feed my plants is to mulch them with fallen leaves. The beauty of mulching with leaves is that leaves are free, and there’s no way to overfertilize.
You might have read that it is possible to mulch too deep. I’ve read that too deep is four inches, and I’ve read that it’s six inches. Wrong. In the case of fallen hardwood leaves around roses, no amount is too much.
You might, just possibly, bury a very tiny transplant, block the sunlight completely, and kill it that way. A lot of the roses I grow, though, would just grow right up through the mulch and laugh down at you the next spring.